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Long-term research with marked individuals shows that black-tailed, Gunnison's, and Utah prairie dogs (Sciuridae: Cynomys ludovicianus, C. gunnisoni, and C. parvidens) all reproduce slowly, despite claims of ranchers and early naturalists. Five factors are responsible for the slow reproduction. First, survivorship in the 1st year is <60% for all 3 species, and it remains low in later years. Second, even under optimal conditions, females of all 3 species produce only 1 litter/year. Third, the percentage of males that copulate as yearlings is only 6%, 24%, and 49% for black-tailed, Gunnison's, and Utah prairie dogs, respectively. The percentage of females that copulate as yearlings is only 35% for black-tailed prairie...
Body mass is sexually dimorphic and varies seasonally for all 5 species of prairie dogs (Sciuridae: Cynomys), as shown by data from live individuals over a period of 28 years (1974–2001; n = 16,447 body masses). Sexual dimorphism (i.e., body mass of males as percentage of body mass of females) during the breeding season is 105% for black-tailed prairie dogs, 127% for Utah prairie dogs, 131% for Gunnison's prairie dogs, and 136% for white-tailed prairie dogs. Sexual dimorphism is minimal at the end of the breeding season, when exhausted males are thin and early-breeding females are heavy with pregnancy. Sexual dimorphism is maximal at weaning, when rested, well-fed males are heavy and females are emaciated from...